Thursday, August 1, 2013

20 ‘capitalists’ financing illegal logging operations in NE?

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said at least 20 capitalists have been financing illegal logging operations in Nueva Ecija, where there are at least six identified “hot spots.”
Leovino Ignacio, DENR provincial environment and natural resources officer, said the logging capitalists are the ones providing logistical support to illegal loggers in hauling forest products in the mountains to buyers in the lowlands.
“By our count, there are at least 20 of them operating in four towns, or five capitalist per town,” Ignacio said.
The DENR has identified six areas as illegal logging “hot spots” namely Bongabon, Carranglan, Gabaldon, Gen. Tinio, Laur and Pantabangan.
Ignacio said the financiers normally provide allowance to illegal loggers before they go to the mountains to fell trees, at an average of P15,000. These the illegal loggers leave to their families before they go out to log for a period lasting at least one month.
These financiers are working in cahoots with syndicates believed to be behind the twin assassination attempts of a forest ranger in June and last May.
          Ignacio said the forest ranger, Edgardo de Luna has already been transferred to Cagayan Valley under heavy security on the order of DENR Secretary Ramon Paje and on the recommendation of DENR regional executive director Maximo Dichoso. 
          De Luna, 49, of Barangay Bantug Bulalo here suffered a gunshot wound at the back of his neck after he was shot by a motorcycle-riding gunman last June 14 at Purok Camalig, Barangay Bangad. He was driving his motorcycle on his way home when shot from close range by the gunman who was riding in tandem with a companion.
          It was the second slay attempt on De Luna who was also shot by a lone gunman on May 23 by a gunman while he was aboard a XLT passenger jeep in Barangay Bitas also in this city.
          Ignacio said De Luna angered members of the syndicate operating in Bongabon town following a series of successful anti-illegal logging operations there.

“This is a big syndicate,” he said, adding many were hurt by the DENR’s campaign against illegal logging of which De Luna is in the forefront, particularly  in Bongabon. (Manny Galvez)   


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